Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Anne does Ann Arbor

From Chelsea's Big Interview with Anne Hathaway on Monday November 22nd:

Hathaway: There are some films where the actors really...have...

Handler: Have sex?? That's called 'Debbie Does Dallas.' And you should never, ever do 'Anne Does Arkansas' or whatever would be the equal to that.

Hathaway: I will try. It would probably be 'Anne Does Ann Arbor,' but I will attempt it.

I guess it's nice to know we are just on the tip of Anne's tongue. Skip to 2:55 for the quote.

Kerrytown Kindle Fest during Midnight Maddness

If only Kerrytown would update its calendar of events, you would know that from 6-10 pm on Friday December 3rd the Farmer's Market and Kerrytown will be open and hosting live music, food and vendors. There will also be roaring wood fires in case you get chilly.

Kissin' Cousins

At my baby Jazz/Hip-Hop on Saturday morning, my class and I were talking about our Thanksgiving holiday while we stretched.

"At our Thanksgiving," I told them, "I found out two of my cousins are getting married! Isn't that exciting?"

The most out-spoken girl in the class had a look of complete horror on her face. She has these cute gaps between her teeth, and, with her mouth fallen open in shock, I could see the gaps extended across the entire top row. "How are your cousins getting married?!?!"

Awfully judgey for a nine-year-old, I thought. Until I realized that, of course, she thought my cousins were getting married to each other.

Talking turkey

This might have been better a few weeks ago, but whatever. Here is the video followup to Quinn's turkey article.

Call your senator for high speed rail

It may be lame duck season, but there is still important legislation on the table. The Michigan Senate is voting on HB 6484, which would provide the required matching state funds to secure the $161 million in federal money for the Detroit to Chicago high speed rail line. Transportation Riders United is asking you to call your state senator today and ask them to support the bill. Not sure who your state senator is? Check out this helpful webpage.

Just keep in mind G.H.'s cautionary tale about pork.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Where's My White Powder?

Mean temperature, Ann Arbor, MI, 11/30/2009: 34 F
Mean temperature, Ann Arbor, MI, 11/30/2008: 32 F
Mean temperature, Ann Arbor, MI, 11/30/2007: 29 F
Forecast temperature, Ann Arbor, MI, 11/30/2010: 45 F

Which of these is not like the other?

I've begun to hear rumblings around A2 about the odd weather we've been having this fall. No one would argue that this is amazing weather - it's hard to be fond of overcast skies, temperatures in the high 30s, and gusty winds - but it's almost... balmy for this time of year in this part of the country. Sure, we've had flurries, but no snow has stuck to the ground and it's nearly December.

I'm one of those Michiganders who dislikes snow - not necessarily when it first falls, as it can be quite pretty (see below). But by the time January rolls around, we've all remembered that MDOT still hasn't figured out how to plow the roads (oh, how I long for the go-go days of the 90s when SUV fever meant the State of Michigan was well-capitalized enough to actually clean the streets effectively); grey slush makes your shoes look disgusting; and the sun setting at 5:30 PM leads to days spent in classrooms and offices with artificial light and nights spent trudging through deserted, dark, windy streets. It's like The Walking Dead up in here.

Waiting for first snow, for me, is like waiting for the doctor to give you a vaccination. You just want it to be over so we can all count down the months until Oberon comes back. Until then, wear a scarf and gloves - illness knows no season.

Edit: This morning (11-30-2010) it's raining and 52 degrees. What the what?!

Move over Four Loko, Whipahol Whipped Lightning is here

Just as everyone's favorite arrhythmia inducing beverage, Four Loko, is being reformulated, Whipped Lightning comes to the rescue. This alcoholic whipped cream ensures hysterical parents will still have something irrational to worry about. Check out this taste test from The Onion's AV Club:

WFTV from Orlando has a much more serious look at the dangers of whipahol. Unfortunately, their video is also much less embeddable.

Plumber support group a hoax!

Imagine my disappointment reading the December Ann Arbor Observer and finding that the ad for the Ann Arbor Plumbers Group was a fake!

World Stem Cell Summit and a Primer on Stem Cells in Michigan

The World Stem Cell Summit took place at the Marriott Renaissance Center in Detroit, October 4-6. Co-hosted by the Genetics Policy Institute (GPI), the state of Michigan and the University Research Corridor, consisting of the Univerisity of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State University—it is the largest event the stem cell/regenerative medicine community hosts annually. So why pick Detroit as the host site for such a high profile event.

Anybody remember Proposal Two on the ballot during the last presidential election? The law, passed in 2008, protects embryonic stem cell (eSC) research in Michigan, with provisions that direct the research funds towards therapeutic ends in the public sector. While allowing scientists to use embryos, developed in fertility clinics, that would otherwise be discarded, Proposal 2 states that only donated embryo’s can only be used, and they must be utilized before day 14 for making embryonic stem cell (eSC) lines. Essentially, you can only use embryos that were going to be disposed of anyway. At day 14, embryos look like this…

Scientists actually want to take cells about 11 days earlier in the process, when they look more like this...

At this stage most embryos haven’t implanted and studies show 30-60% never will. Implantation in the uterus is the first true stage of pregnancy where a woman’s body physically changes and they can, potentially, sense being pregnant. Day 5 embryos are a ball of nearly identical cells that haven’t begun to form organs, and generally, haven’t implanted into the uteral lining. The goal of producing eSCs is to obtain the cells at the earliest points in development, before they specialize (differentiate is the technical term) into specific tissue or blood cells you see in later stages of development. The end goal is to direct cell specialization, so they can replace damaged tissues in those who need it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This is why I can't read annarbor.com's comments any more

From the article Ten University of Michigan students to travel to United Nations Climate Change Conference:


Climate has ALWAYS changed. What is the big deal. It is a big deal if some crooks can find a way to fool the people into giving up trillions of dollars to enrich themselves. Sea levels will rise 20 feet, the Arctic ice will melt, the Hymalaya glacier will melt, etc., etc., etc. "Tell a big lie and repeat it over and over and people will believe it." Nazi, Germany.

To find out why the lies are being told, Google, "Agenda 21." It is far more evil and expansive than merely stealing money through cap-n-trade and carbon taxes.

There are many other juicy comments.

Midnight Madness

This Friday, Downtown Ann Arbor Businesses will be open until, well midnight. Stores in the State, Liberty, Main and Kerrytown areas will be hawking their wares at discounted prices and offering specials to lure shoppers. While the sales are nice, the atmosphere is even better. The streets will fill with musicians and carolers and the whole town will take on a festive air. Last year, Every Day Wine in Kerrytown hosted a free wine tasting. If that's not festive enough for you then I don't know what is. Whether you are looking for gifts or just taking in the spirit of the season, Midnight Madness is not to be missed.

Photo via ellenm1

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Despite rumors to the contrary...

You can still buy Four Loko in Ann Arbor. We picked these up at A & L Wine Castle this afternoon. Everything in moderation right?

Is it winter yet?

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Night before Thanksgiving

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and our fridge was a jungle.

Open Season on Christmas

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I have coerced permission to unleash my unwieldy Christmas spirit on Damn Arbor. (Much to BCB's chagrin, I've been listening to Christmas music for over two weeks already, so this is the mainstreamed part of the crazy.)

To get us started, please enjoy this slice of holiday cheer from last year.

Copyright Chewies 2009.

The Bang

The Bang!, Ann Arbor's premier (only) monthly dance party is at the Blind Pig tomorrow night. Coincidentally, Four Loko will be banned in the very near future. If you want to get sweaty with a bunch of hipsters, you really can't beat The Bang!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Damn Arbor! Check out this Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata), the smaller, psychedelic cousin of North America's Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

John Conyers flips through Playboy on plane

Less revealing than TSA body scans, Congressman reasons to himself.

Maybe he's just lonely.

Biking on the sidewalk is the worst thing you can do

In response to our friends question about bike culture in Ann Arbor--specifically the high incidence of helmet-less sidewalk riding--I have come to a different conclusion than Mr. Houston: people bike like this because people are terrible at judging risk. Just look at parents top 5 fears for their children versus the top 5 ways children get hurt or killed. Thinking abstractly, biking on the sidewalk seems much safer than biking in the road: being hit by a 1300 kg Carolla causes a lot more damage than being hit by a 75 kg pedestrian. Unfortunately, a cursory analysis like this though, vastly over simplifies this system. Very little research has been done on bicycle transportation planning. Thus, the majority of bicycle infrastructure, policy, and strategy is based on what amounts to rumor and folklore.

While riding on the sidewalk may feel safer, the few studies that have been conducted show that biking on the sidewalk carries between 1.8 and 4 times the risk of accident than biking in the street. In fact, the only thing that carries more risk than biking on the sidewalk is biking against traffic. Why is this? Sidewalks confine bicycle travel and hinder the ability of drivers to see cyclists. Drivers checking for pedestrians before entering an intersection are not conditioned to look for cyclists traveling at speed. Most bikers greatest fear, in terms of bike-car collisions, is being overtaken from behind by a car traveling in the same direction. This type of accident though, is the least frequent category of car-bike accidents; it is far more likely to be hit in an intersection. The final reason cyclists should not ride on sidewalks is that they end up having to weave around pedestrians who are milling around in near Brownian motion. Riding in the sidewalk increases the risk of both being hit by a car and hitting a pedestrian. It is far better to develop the skills and confidence necessary to bike on the streets. Also, helmets are hot:

Is cycling dangerous? The risk of bicycle use: accidents, fatalities, injuries, and benefits
Risk Factors for Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collisions at Intersections
Adult Bicyclists in the U.S.
The Dilemmas of Bicycle Planning
Photo: Flyboy Helmet via Nutcase Helmets

The Way of the Bike

A friend of Damn Arbor and visitor to Ann Arbor commented recently on our city's bike culture: namely that so many people ride their bikes on their sidewalks, frequently at high velocities and without head protection. I've noticed this on a number of occasions as well, usually from behind my handlebars. So what is it about biking in Ann Arbor that gives rise to this widespread two-wheeled devil-may-care attitude? Here are my thoughts.

We don't actually have bike lanes. BCB has written about this before: most of Ann Arbor's bike lines are actually in the middle of regular traffic lanes. That is to say, when you are riding your bike there is usually a car right behind you, the driver is on his way to Buffalo Wild Wings, and he has very little patience with you, who is the only thing between him and spicy meat and televised sports. I will take my chances with pedestrians.

File:2009-03-07 Man with bicycle helmet.jpg
This guy looks dumb.

Helmets look dumb. There is no way around it. It is impossible to look cool while wearing a bike helmet. Sure it is whole lot stupider to not wear a helmet (closed head injuries, etc.), but at least you don't look stupid. That's what really matters.

Michigan roads suck, even in Ann Arbor. This one is real. A few weeks ago, I was riding to work and hit a pothole. Except, apparently, my body doesn't believe in inertia or any of the other laws of physics to the same extent as my bike, and I quite unexpectedly found myself on the ground. And there stood my bike still inexplicably upright, its front tire still in the pothole. Luckily, I was wearing my helmet.

These are just my thoughts. Does anyone else have any comments about Ann Arbor's particular bike culture?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wolverine State Brewing Company

Michigan earned the nickname "Wolverine State" during the Toledo War. Ohioans disparagingly compared Michiganders to the vicious mammal. Our state's early residents wore the title proudly as the raised a militia to secure Toledo from the sticky paws of Ohio Politicians. Militias from both states never quite managed to find each other as they marched through the Great Black Swamp. In the end, the only casualty of the war was a Monroe County Sheriff's deputy who suffered non-fatal injures after being cut with a pen knife while attempting to arrest brothers One and Two Stickney. Ohio got the Toledo Strip, while Michigan became a state and got the western 2/3 of the Upper Peninsula making Wisconsin the undisputed looser of the Toledo War.

Fastforward to present day Ann Arbor and the newly opened Wolverine State Brewing Company Tap Room. The name conjures up images of a simpler time. A time when Michiganders were united and determined to shoot at Ohioans, if they could ever find their way out of the damned swamp. As we have mentioned in earlier posts, on the fateful night of November 9th we skipped Glee and piled into the car to check out what Wolverine State Brewing Co. had to offer. Nothing could have prepared us for what came next.


I hope I don't come off as shallow, but I really need to point out that we totally beat annarbor.com to the punch. Our article on the MSA's resolution in support of the anti-police surveillance ordnance from Students Against Surveillance came out on the 11th. Annarbor.com's article came out just yesterday.

Dearest Damn Arbor: They picked the wrong professor

Dearest Damn Arbor,

My name is Julie and I am getting a masters in English. Recently, an awesome poet who was up for a teaching position at my school was rejected because a tenured professor - who hasn't even been on campus for years! - put the kibosh on her selection. Some students plan on protesting and taking the matter to the dean. Do you have any advice?

Up-In-Arms in the Ivory Tower

Dearest Up-In-Arms,

You've got the right idea going to the dean. I would suggest arming yourselves by doing the following:

First, try to get your hands on the faculty selection bylaws and see if there is any kind of appeals or review process in there. Unfortunately, tenured professors have a lot of sway in the selection of new faculty, but there still might be something to go on in there. I would check with the university's senior administrative secretary or in the library.

Second, remember that although professors have a lot of power, so do students. Even if there is no formal review process, if you make a big enough stink it might force Professor Moriarty to put his reasons out into the open. It might be they're legitimate, but if they're not it puts him in a defensive position. Even if he's got more formal power than the students, you still have ways of making your voice heard. It might be worthwhile to try to get other faculty members in your camp, but bear in mind that this might open a political can of worms for anyone who joins you, so tread carefully.

Third, try to keep your tone respectful, at least at first. There is always a time and a place for passionate, strenuous protest, but keep in mind that this is a prof who probably has a long track record at the school - and that means lots of ins with the administration and, more importantly, with donors. Start with op eds in the school newspaper before you take to the streets. If push comes to shove, there is a long and glorious tradition of student protests, but sometimes you catch more flies - and poets - with honey.

Got questions? Submit them to damn.arbor@gmail.com.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Taking the hype

Karen, a woman I know from Pure Dance Company, has been trying to coin a new slang term. Slang can be tricky: it has to be amusing, maybe a little subversive, fun to say, broadly applicable and, most difficult, it has to capture the Zeitgeist of a subculture in some way.

I thought hers fulfilled all of these requirements, so I submitted it to Urban Dictionary, the 13th century Catholic monks of slang.

Here is the submission:

A Load of Carp

This past week, the U.S. Senate passed the Asian Carp Control and Prevention Act, which is designed to prevent the importation of Asian carp into the United States. The bill itself is short - its functional provisions are only a single sentence - but it explicitly lists the Asian Carp as an outlawed species and importing it could potentially land you in jail.

This is an important step. Asian Carp are the biggest threat to the Great Lakes right now. The EPA imported them in the 1970s to remove algae from catfish farms along the Mississippi River. Now the carp is about the pass through Chicago's lock system into the Great Lakes, where it's going to wreak all manner of holy havoc.

So even though it's important that the U.S. government is finally acknowledging that the world's biggest source of freshwater is about to be ravaged by an EPA experiment gone awry, simply slapping people with a fine and a few months of jail time isn't going to cut it if we really want to save the Great Lakes. We need prescriptive rules and regulations that will keep not just the Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes, but all injurious species like them. There are several plans on the table for how to do this, but no single idea has enough support behind it to be implemented at the moment. One thing is for certain, though: continued delay will cost us dearly.

I grew up boating on Lake St. Clair, but the shallow confines of the not-quite-Great Lake will be the perfect habitat the Asian Carp. It turns out that the sound of boat motors sends this sixty-pound fish into an aquatic frenzy - and then they fly out of the water and into people's boats, laps, and faces.

I'm trying to imagine what my childhood would have been like had I been forced to dodge fish that weighed almost as much as I did. Exciting?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An Afternoon at the Teddy Bear Factory

Hi hi Damn Arbor readers. After a fair amount of nagging and passive aggression I have finally been invited to guest blog. So let me tell you about the Chelsea Teddy Bear Company’s factory tour, just up the street in Chelsea, MI.

Pancake the bear settles into his new home

My roommate and I had been itching to go on the teddy factory tour ever since last fall when we toured the Jiffy muffin mix factory (highly recommended) just across the street. When we first walked in, I overwhelmed and delighted. Teddies of all shapes, sizes and colors filled the store and lined the walls, and a particularly welcoming life-size model waited right in the entrance for me to give him a hello hug and high-five. We spent the 20 spare minutes we had allowed ourselves before the start of the tour browsing the teddy ranks in the shop: seeing who could find the softest bear, playing puppets with the stuff-your-own bears, and discussing the pros and cons of dressing up teddy bears in outfits.

At 1pm our tour finally began. Our very kind and surprisingly witty tour guide filled us in on the history of stuffed toys (it all started with an elephant pincushion), teddy bears, and Teddy Roosevelt’s pivotal act of mercy vis-à-vis a baby bear.

Tim Kasher @ the Blind Pig

Former Michigan Theater employee, and frontman for Cursive and The Good Life is bringing his soulful/angsty lyrics to the Blind Pig tonight. Kasher is touring in support of his first solo album The Game of Monogamy. You can sample the Omaha-scene veteran's music below:

Picture via timkasher.com

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Four Loko Spotting

A lone can of Four Loko sits on a parking meter in front of The Necto this morning.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ann Arbor Hawks

Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii) next to Martha Cooper. Grey back with brown and white bars on chest. Feeds primarily on birds and small mammals. Photo via Damn Arbor's Flickr.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Clear as Mud

Edward H. Cooper, the Thomas H. Cooley Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School, was quoted in today's New York Times story on overlong judicial opinions coming down from the U.S. Supreme Court, under the leadership of John Roberts.

Half of the Damn Arbor regular staff had Professor Cooper for first-year civil procedure (aka CivPro), which introduces law students to the rules for proceeding through civil lawsuits in the federal courts, and it's nice to see our professors quoted in the paper of record. Indeed, the school regularly updates a page devoted to faculty mentions in the news. For my part, I can only wonder why the Times didn't ask Prof. Cooper about imaginary car crashes at the corner of Hill and State, but maybe that's for a follow-up interview on overly-complex CivPro hypotheticals.

Four Loko, the absinthe of our generation?

Original Four Loko inspired art by Ben Houston.

Just as Four Loko hysteria is reaching a manic frenzy, the news comes that the FDA is banning the sale of caffeinated alcoholic beverages. Is Four Loko our absinthe? From Thought Catalog:
Four Loko has also inspired several artists. Decades from now, art historians will likely draw parallels between Four Loko and absinthe. They might even call Four Loko “the absinthe of America” and maybe professors will ask their students to write essays comparing and contrasting Picasso’s early, absinthe inspired paintings with the work of Gwop Gang Muzik and Snack Theater.

Maybe we should stock up, or at least try some before it's gone from store shelves.

Image via Troy Holden

Michigan cleans up at National Book Awards

The National Book Awards Ceremony was last night, and our pleasant peninsula was well represented. Jaimy Gordon, an English professor at Western Michigan University, won for fiction and Patti Smith, the rocker who raised her family in St. Clair Shores, won for nonfiction.

La Boheme at the Detroit Opera House

La Boheme will be playing its final performances at the Detroit Opera House this weekend; I'll be in the audience with my family on Saturday night. I saw it for the first time in Nuremberg in 2006, but really I have been in love with the opera since Cher and Nicholas Cage watched it at the Met.

Cher does her walk of shame to "O soave fanciulla," the song in which Rodolfo professes his love to Mimi at the end of the first act (watch 8:08-9:06).

There are a lot of famous arias and duets in La Boheme, not the least of which is Musetta's Waltz. But Cher will only walk of shame to one of them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our First Press Release

Received at 2:43 pm today.

Ann Arbor, MI – With a large voting majority, the Michigan Student Assembly passed a resolution in support of the Ann Arbor Freedom From Surveillance Ordinance. The first ordinance of its kind in the country, the Ann Arbor Freedom From Surveillance Ordinance will restrict surveillance to the temporary monitoring of high-crime areas. MSA, representing over 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Michigan, called on the City Council to pass the ordinance in order to prevent the intrusive police surveillance that many cities around Michigan and the rest of the country have already implemented. While MSA commended Ann Arbor’s ongoing prevention of intrusive surveillance, the body believes that a preventative ordinance is necessary to preserve freedom in the city. The group’s next step is to meet with Ann Arbor City Council members.

I guess it's good Students Against Surveillance is attempting to prevent surveillance camera instillation before anyone in City Counsel has discussed it?

Happy Hump Day

Happy hump day readers. I know we just missed Halloween, but y'all should totally check out Emily Carroll's awesome and spooky comic, "His Face all Red."

School in KKK capital of Midwest protects free speech from anti-bullying agenda

A Howell High School teacher was recently suspended for a day for removing a student from class for anti-gay speech.

The student had said, several times, "I don't accept gays. It's against my religion," after the teacher, Jay McDowell, repeated that this was not an appropriate thing to say in class.

Fourteen-year-old Graeme Taylor, a student in the same school district, has become YouTube famous defending McDowell's actions at a recent Howell school board meeting.

Clip below.

A Michigan 'Cherry'

Is there any other kind?

This one was filmed in Kalamazoo, premiered in Traverse City and plays tomorrow night at 7:15 and 9:30 PM at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. (The director will answer questions after the first showing.)

We know about those cities! We're so excited to see this!

Damn Arbor wonders if people in New York and Los Angeles are psyched all the time. (Skip to 1:11. Or bask in the comic brilliance of Aziz for a while and watch the whole thing.)

Check out the "Cherry" trailer below.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Alley Bar

Stopped by Alley Bar last night for the first time since last December. Rumor has it that it that management has changed since then. The place definitely had a new feel--slightly tidier, new chairs. The most notable feature was a new drink menu. There offer a full line of specialty cocktails that were only $5 (Monday special). I had a "Gin Gin Mule" which was excellent. Alley Bar also has $3.5 tallboys of PBR and High Life every night. I guess I'll have to try a "pickle back" next time I go.

Photo via: Alley Bar

Someone at the Daily is having a lot of fun writing the crime notes

From the Michigan Daily:
Stairwell lurker a jerker

WHERE: Michigan Union
WHEN: Sunday at about 10: 15 p.m.
WHAT: A female student found a male subject lying underneath a stairwell allegedly masturbating, according to University Police. He was arrested at the time by University Police and released later that night.

Volvo recovered

WHERE: 2200 Hayward
WHEN: Sunday at about 9 a.m.
WHAT: A 1999 grey Volvo S80 that was reported stolen on Nov. 8 was recovered, University Police reported.

Laptop left for five mins. stolen

WHERE: Duderstadt Building
WHEN: Sunday at about 3:50 p.m.
WHAT: A Macbook Pro left unattended for about five minutes was stolen from the third floor of the library, University Police reported. Officers gathered evidence and the case is still under investigation.

Vittles vanish at Cancer Center

WHERE: Cancer Center
WHEN: Saturday at 1:10 p.m.
WHAT: Various food items valued at about $10 were stolen, University Police reported. Currently, the incident is still under investigation.

Complete double alliteration.

Monday, November 15, 2010

On heritage turkeys

Nic Harnois holds a heritage turkey as conventional turkeys look on. Photo by John Harnois, via: Washtenaw Voice

Just in time for Thanksgiving, our intrepid Quinn Davis has a great article about Whitmore Lake Turkey Farmer, John Harnois. He and his son, Nic, raise both traditional and heritage breeds. From the article:

Harnois has a few hundred conventional turkeys this year compared to only a few dozen heritage turkeys. He says he likes raising both kinds, but prefers to eat the heritage breed. These turkeys come with more dark meat, and are generally more flavorful than their conventional cousin.
“The only complaint I’ve ever had was that my turkeys were too moist and too flavorful,” laughed Harnois. “She was expecting a dry-tasting Butterball, and that’s not what I raise.”

Harnois went on gobbling with the turkeys as he explained the way his business works. There wasn’t any hurry to get the turkeys back in the cage.

“I might as well just hang out here and wait. I won’t be able to get them back in the cage until my business partner gets home from school,” he said.

His business partner is his 13-year-old son, Nic Harnois. And Nic’s partnership isn’t just an endearing title; both of their names are listed on the Harnois Farm business cards

Just then, Nic came walking past the chicken coop, introduced himself and got to herding the flock back into their cage.

You can read the rest of Quinn's article here.

The Elixir of Love

In the second act of the University of Michigan University Opera Theatre's production of "The Elixir of Love," the hero Nemorino is convinced by his foil Sergeant Belcore to enlist in the army to earn the money Nemorino needs to buy more elixir of love.

"If it is love that concerns you, you will find it in the army."

Donizetti didn't know about DADT when he first penned the comic opera, but I had to wonder how much of the audience's resulting laughter was anachronistic.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Damn Arbor visits renovated West Park

West Park used to be a little... well squishy. The park was built over an interred tributary of Allen's Creek, so whenever it rained, the park's topography tended to result in an accumulation of water in and on the ground. West Park reopened yesterday after being closed for renovations last spring. The most notable change is the addition of 4 wet meadows/storm water treatments ponds (see picture above) in the lower lying areas of the park. These ponds actually lie above the pipes containing the Allen's creek tributary.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hemlock woolly adelgid spoted in Michigan

The hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) has been sported in Michigan. Michigan Radio reports the invasive insect has been found near Holland. The Woolly adelgid has destroyed hemlock populations in the Appalachian Mountains and Northeastern US. Could this spell doom for Michigan's longest lived trees?

Some background on Wolverine State Brewing Co.

Oliver Roberts, the owner of Wolverine
State Brewing Co. Photo courtesy of
The Washtenaw Voice, which was
originally courtesy of E.T. Crowe.

Long before the Wolverine State Brewing Co. ever opened, the newspaper I write for, The Washtenaw Voice, sent staffer (and local teacher) Wendy Ochoa out to figure out what the whole place was about. She did a small piece about the brewery opening (Wolverine State Brewing Co. set to open soon, Sept. 13 issue). By the sounds of it, they don't plan on ever serving any food there besides snacks.

Wolverine, unlike other breweries in Ann Arbor, will not be a brewpub with a high-end food menu. The location will house the brewery and a tap room, which will have capacity for about 150 people. The owners will have snacks like pretzels and popcorn on hand.

However, they've made delivery arrangements with several Stadium Boulevard-area restaurants, including Gourmet Garden, Izzy's Hoagie Shop and several pizza places.
The Damn Arborites already scoped this place out, so be sure to check it out yourself. Besides, this is a local business we're talking about, people. Now go drive your Toyotas and Hondas over there and introduce yourselves.

Watch out for Deer

Michigan ranks second nationally in deer-vehicle collisions. Translation: in the next 12 months the average driver in Michigan has about a 1 in 80 chance of colliding with a cute little Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed deer). Washtenaw County certainly isn't as bad as Kent County, but we still rank pretty high relative to most of the state. According to a recent annarbor.com article, Scio Township has the highest number of deer collisions in the county. Just keep in mind that every deer-vehicle collision could be avoided if everybody simply rode bikes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Family Time Too Stressful? Granholm Has Your Back

The Free Press reports today that Governor Granholm plans to sign a bill allowing liquor stores to sell alcohol on Sunday mornings and on Christmas Day. It's the perfect solution to all the awkward family moments that you'll run into throughout the holiday season.

Washtenaw County Transit Game

Passionate about mass transit? Think you could make improvements in Washtenaw County's public transit system? Well now you can put your skills to the test with the new Washtenaw County Transit Master Plan Game.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wolverine State Brewing, Co.

We are a little tired from researching our article on Ann Arbor's newest brewpub, Wolverine State Brewing Company. Not to give too much away, but it is nearly impossible to find and has free pretzels.

Grad Student Housing in Ann Arbor?

Gentle readers,

We recently received an email from a potential Ph.D candidate asking about Northwood Apartments and housing for graduate students in general in Ann Arbor. I was hoping that some of you would be willing to share your thoughts or experiences on the matter. What do you think the best places to look for housing are? Are there areas to avoid, or other things to keep in mind?

In Memoriam

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Main St. Mixology

I had an unexpectedly classy evening yesterday - birthday drinks (sadly not for my birthday) with two friends at Grange, and a dinner organized by a few student groups (including my own) at the Jolly Pumpkin.

One of my friends is a little down on Ann Arbor - or at least, while he doesn't hate his life here, he won't miss an opportunity to point out its shortcomings. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to hear him praise Grange's cocktail list - not just for the well-regarded GKB Manhattan, with its bacon-infused bourbon, but also the seasonal Kentucky Monastery. The GGGinger just won an award for best cocktail in A2, which my other friend loved. My own choices were vastly different - the In-Cider, with a well-blended hint of fall; and the John Daly, which blended sour citrus with a tea subflavor. I think what my friend enjoyed (for once) was the lack of pretension in the drinks. These are well-thought drinks that were out to please, not to impress with their awesome daringness. As he put it, "Imagine how terrible these ideas would be executed in Brooklyn."

Jolly Pumpkin has also got a lot of press for its local beers, including a Belgian-style that famously did better than actual beers from Belgium in a New York Times taste test. The food's not bad (as at Grange), but I do think that the drinks are the highlight. Sadly, both spots are a little out of my price range for everyday visits, but once in a while I'm pleasantly reminded of the strength of both drink menus.

Dearest Damn Arbor: A Call for Questions!

Social problems: fixed. Employment anxieties: answered. Moral quandaries: resolved categorically. We are omniscient and we are thinking about you.

Each week the editors of Damn Arbor will answer your questions, gentle reader, providing guidance on your myriad personal quandaries, crises of conscience, and uncertainties about the finer points of etiquette. You may be a lonesome, boorish slob, but we are here to help. We may not always have the right answer, or even good answers, but that doesn’t make us any less self-righteous.

Ask and you shall receive damn good advice.

So, please, send us your questions for the very first installment of Damn Arbor's advice column.

Guide to Ann Arbor: Understanding Michigan Accents

So you're new to Michigan and maybe you are a little confused. You may have noticed that the natives pronounce the names of cities and towns in this fair state differently than you would have expected. You may have heard of "SuhLEEN", its neighbor "MYlun", "Lake OReeyun" but been unable to find them on a map.

The Michigander dialect has a subtle and unique pronunciation owing to diverse influxes of Northern European immigrants and a smattering of southern transplants. The resulting accent is one part Nasal Chicago, one part Minnesota with a dash of Canadian and a bit of southern twang. Or as Eric Weaver puts it, "The resulting mix is similar to a pirate from Kentucky with a head cold..." Which brings us to Weaver's humorous Michigan Accent Pronunciation Guide. The guide covers everything from speech patterns, to pronunciations unique to Michigan and even has a section on the names of Detroit streets.

From the guide:

Let me tell ya, it is DAMNED cold in Michigan, so you have GOT to conserve energy. Consequently, the right way to speak "Michigin" is to

1. talk fast,
2. slur your words together, and
3. clip all your hard consonants, like "t". Someone smarter than me calls this a "glottal stop".

This guide is a must-read for both natives and anyone who has been confused by their first "Michigan Left."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Breaking News: Cox fires Shirvell

I think we can all breathe a little easier now that Michigan's wackiest assistant attorney general has been fired. Maybe a U of M Law Student can take his place.

From AnnArbor.com:Andrew Shirvell fired from job at Michigan Attorney General's Office

That's why.

On Friday afternoons, I volunteer at the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Project, an organization that represents people who have been denied unemployment benefits. I was sitting in the office recording notes and absent-mindedly overhearing a fellow student's phone conversation with his client.

I was not alone in my eavesdropping. (It's hard to be alone in anything at MUIP; we are asses to ankles in that office.)

¨Have you ever in your life called anyone ma'am or sir?¨ the other eavesdropping student asked me. I hadn't noticed, but the student on the phone was using the address.

¨Sure,¨ I said. ¨Though recently I've been getting complaints from people who don't want to be called 'ma'am' by another adult.¨

¨I've never in my life called anyone ma'am or sir,¨ said the other eavesdropping student, shaking her head bewilderedly.

¨Did you grow up in the Midwest?¨ I asked.

She shook her head. ¨Northwest. Washington state.¨

¨That's why.¨

My partner volunteer, a first-year student from Kansas, nodded enthusiastically in agreement.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org.

Guide to Ann Arbor: How to find your perfect CSA

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is the coolest-looking green we've gotten in our CSA share from Sunseed Farm to date. Sometimes I'm tempted to chop off the stems and bundle them inside licorice packaging to trick people (okay, kids) into thinking they're getting some of those weird-flavored Twizzlers. HaHA! They'd never see it coming!

In other news, I figured it was high time for me to give a shout out to the lovely layday that helped us find our perfect CSA match, Kim Bayer. Kim does all sorts of food-related things in Washtenaw County, and the two most useful things for us have been 1) her blog, the Farmer's Marketer and 2) her CSA-finding service.

Last spring, I was browsing The Internet, minding my own business, when FLABLAM! I came across a link to Bayer's CSA-matching service via the Brines Farm website.

Josh and I had wanted to jump on the CSA bandwagon for some time, but we were pretty timid about it. I mean, come on, it's not exactly normal to pay somebody a huge chunk of change and then just trust them to show up with your food every week. What food would we get? We're pretty adventurous (meaning I'm very adventurous and Josh is decently adventurous, but I bump him up to my level by forcing him to try stuff), but what if we get vegetables shaped like rocks? How do you cook that? And we're leaving for most of the summer — would it even be worth having?

Trampled by Trampled By Turtles

Minnesotan quasi-bluegrass band, Trampled By Turtles played the Blind Pig last Friday. I was in attendance and the place was packed.

Melding bluegrass themes with a number of other modern and traditional influences, the five piece group puts on a really good show. Their oeuvre effortlessly encompasses the melancholy and the raucous, showing no strain around the edges; and the band members are fluent enough with their own work and with each other to smoothly transition from piece to piece, making for a really enjoyable performance.

A number of other folks at the performance who had seen Trampled By Turtles before said that this was the best show that they had been to - and as someone with a keen appreciation of bluegrass, I was inclined to agree. Trampled By Turtles put interesting new spins on the standards as well as putting bluegrass spins on modern songs. The highlight of the evening for me was the Pixie's "Where Is My Mind" played by a banjo.

The only real downside to the show was that I couldn't get close to the stage and I drank away all the money in my wallet so I couldn't buy their LP, Palomino. Next time, perhaps.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

'Glee' gets the Ann Arbor treatment

Darren Criss, University of Michigan '09, guest stars on "Glee" this week.

Do we finally have a love interest for baby gay Kurt?

Evidence of AA presence (note BCB's alma mater Community High in the background):

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Paul Taylor Dance Company

One of the best things about fall in Ann Arbor is that, in one weekend, you can spend $200 to watch your home team continue its three-year streak on the rough end of an intrastate football rivalry.

Or you can spend $10 to see the work of one of America's most celebrated choreographers.

(I guess you can do both, but that would take the wind right out of my smug, pretentious sails.)

Trained by Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine, Paul Taylor is, indeed, a choreographer giant, a pioneer of postmodern dance in the 20th century.

The night we saw his company, Ben was suffering one of his rock-climbing-related ankle sprains, and the slow, deliberate progression of his crutches lent our descent to the first row of the Power Center an aura of even greater ceremony.

The first piece, ¨Speaking in Tongues,¨ was hard to watch. The story of an oppressively Christian small town is as much a cliche now as in 1988, when it was first performed. There is a corrupt minister, forbidding sex for his congregation but partaking of the town prostitute; a budding but ultimately quashed love between a young woman and a community outcast; a woman who survives a rape and seeks the counsel of the minister.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Letter from San Francisco: Breathe Owl Breathe

Hey kids, I'm an Ann Arbor ex-pat guest-posting from San Francisco, Calif. while being jealous that the seasons are changing where you are.

Last week I went to see Breathe Owl Breathe from East Jordan, Mich., play at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. They have a special talent for encouraging audience participation while avoiding cliche. Maybe it's because they looked like they were having so much fun. Stand out songs were Own Stunts, which was half story-telling, and Dragon, including an audience sing along to the line "how do you stop loving someone?" Those are both off of Magic Central.

At some point they mentioned being from the Northern Lower Peninsula. A good third of the audience yelled approval... there are a lot of Michiganders out here, but I think the Californians were into the show, too. Next time they're playing near Ann Arbor, you should probably check it out (that is, if you haven't already). Also check out their project for kiddos, up for donations on Kickstarter.

Share the Road

For one of my classes this term, we are required to do a presentation on information and control. Inspired by BCB's post on the new bike lanes in Ann Arbor, we chose to discuss bike regulation in Ann Arbor and whether the regulations make sense. While we only had a 15 minute presentation, it sparked a great deal of discussion in our class - more than the presentations on Holocaust denial or media censorship in China. I think it's because everyone in our class has either been a driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist in A2. Anyway, we are required to redo our presentation in a couple of weeks, based on our instructor's feedback, as well as our classmates' comments. Some of them suggested surveying people on the street regarding the confusing chevrons.

We are hoping to talk to some A2 City officials about the bike lanes, and I'll keep you posted as we continue researching up to our next presentation.

Now a word on phobias

Check out Quinn's most recent Washtenaw Voice article, PHOBIAS: Spiders and snakes and meat? Oh my! From the article:
“I’m phobic of meat,” said Caius Schneider, 20 a mechanical engineering major at Washtenaw Community College from Berkley, Mich. “I have been a vegetarian for like seven years because of it.”

Schneider’s carnophobia, or her fear of meat, would be considered a phobia by most. But in psychology, the phobia label would only be used after the fear passed the specific diagnostic criteria of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition). The DSM-IV is the psychology world’s bible for diagnosing mental disorders.

“People that see a spider might freak out then, but it will pass. That’s not a phobia,” said Ann Jones, a WCC part-time psychology faculty member. “With phobias, it can last hours, days, weeks — it can last your whole life.”

You'll have to read the article yourself to see what proctophobic means.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ann Arbor Craigslist, Best Of

Wanted-- babysitter for druggies

My boyfriend and I like to experiment with various recreational chemicals, but sometimes when we're coming down (like now) we don't want to go out, but we really really really want some sort of obscure, horrible fast food item. We used to have a friend that would bring us stuff and not expect much in return, but he moved away. We would like a replacement for him. We don't want to DO drugs with you, but we are perfectly willing to hook you up or bake you cookies (when we're sober) or listen to you whine about how no girls like you (as our old Tender of the Druggies did). We don't want you to stay overly long, either. Bring us stuff, chill for maybe fifteen minutes (longer if we aren't obviously exchanging looks or hinting about how tired we are or how NO WE DO NOT WANT A CUDDLE THREESOME), be on your way. We are chill people and really would like to be your friend, but this works better if you are some sort of unlikable loser, eager to please and be accepted, have lots of spare time and few friends, and are socially retarded in some other manner-- thus you are fine with an abusive, exploitative relationship of you fetching us NOMS.

Anyway, hunger is becoming a serious problem after all this 2c-i so we are off to fix that. Please let us know if you would like to assist us with this endeavor in the future. We are conveniently located in downtown Ann Arbor.

Nacah is Hebrew.... for adventure.

You really have to admire their brutal honesty.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Look who's stalking: Andrew Shirvell on The Daily Show

What's the old adage? There is no such thing as bad publicity? It's not a secret that when you get interviewed for The Daily Show, some producer makes fun of you for being a horrible hypocrite/bigot right? I mean you would have to be pretty far removed from reality to think that you could argue your case on the show. You would have to be some 30-year-old loon that spends his free time following around a college student...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Look Who's Stalking
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

...oh. Well, at least the make the campus look great.

Guide to Ann Arbor: eat local with a CSA

It's no secret Ann Arbor is home to tons of great food. You can get great food from the Farmer's Market, the People's Food Co-op, or even Meijer and Kroger. Heck we even have TWO Whole Foods. But let's face it: sometimes we all forget to buy produce, or even make it out to buy any groceries for a week or two. And if you are like me, you probably don't go out of your way to buy vegetables like bok choy. Fortunately, Ann Arbor is also home to several Community Supported Agriculture programs, or CSAs. When you buy into a CSA, you are essentially buying a share of a farm's output for a season. It is a great way to support local farmers and get some super tasty local food.

This fall our house is splitting a share from Sunseed Farm. Every Friday morning we pick up pounds of assorted vegetables from farmers Tomm and Trilby Becker. They manage to grow wonderful potatoes that have buttery texture and broccoli that is almost sweet. Seriously, it is some of the best food I have ever eaten.

If you are interested in purchasing a share of a CSA, Sunseed is offering winter shares for about $35 a week. You can also check out the Farmer's Market's CSA page or their daunting 80 megabyte .pdf guide to choosing a CSA.

Many of the local CSAs also have their own pages:

Community Farm of Ann Arbor

Harvest Kitchen

Brines Farm

Don't let the granola-y names deter you. In my experience, CSAs offer outstanding food.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Now that the polls are closed...

Make sure your read Quinn's endorsements for Washtenaw Community College trustee and in the 54th district state senate race.

Horiszny’s expertise will be imperative to the Board if David Rutledge, the current Board treasurer, wins the election for Michigan’s 54th District State Representative. Here at The Voice, we’re counting on it, and endorsing Rutledge for the Nov. 2 race.


I just did. It's totally cool.

Ward Boundary Map

Welcome to Damn Arbor!

Welcome to Damn Arbor, a new blog filled with our musings on life in the Manhattan of the Midwest. We've already written some great articles, including reflections on the emotional roller coaster of the University of Michigan football team and LGBTQ discrimination in local schools, and we have some great ones coming up. Keep checking back this week because we have got articles analyzing election results and a guide to winter CSAs, to name a few.

Here at Damn Arbor we hope to provide both a whimsical tour of the lives of young students and locals, and reports on news and events in the area. Even if you don't live in Ann Arbor, you'll still find it worth reading. We think life here parallels life in a lot of other small cities in the US. We just have more fun than you do.